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film review: Clash Of The Titans

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
April 2, 2010 4:00 AM
6 Comments
  • |

For a variety of reasons, I had low expectations for this fantasy-action yarn—and even lower expectations for its 3-D presentation, as I learned that the process was layered onto the movie after the fact. As it turns out, the film was better than I expected, while the 3-D was even worse. The glasses I wore at the official Warner Bros. press screening were heavy and cumbersome, and what I saw onscreen—dimensionally speaking—wasn’t worth the bother. This cheapjack approach could kill off audiences’ desire to see 3-D movies, and certainly may—

—dampen their willingness to shell out additional money for the privilege.

Of the movie, at least it can be said that no one was tampering with a classic. The 1981 original was the last of Ray Harryhausen’s big-screen productions, and while his stop-motion work was great, the film itself left a lot to be desired, in spite of a formidable cast, led by Laurence Olivier, no less, as Zeus. (Harryhausen didn’t write or direct his movies, although he was often their guiding spirit.)

The new version, directed by Louis Letterier, and written by Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, introduces some new concepts and characters while essentially following the original screenplay. One of the film’s chief virtues is Sam Worthington, who has real screen presence, and the physicality required of an action hero like Perseus. He’s a big reason this Clash succeeds as well as it does. The film sets up his central conflict—he’s a “demigod” who rejects his Olympian heritage—quite well, and introduces a character named Io who is more-or-less his guardian angel. As she is played by the angelic-looking Gemma Arterton (best-known to Americans as Strawberry Fields in the last James Bond outing) this is another of the movie’s major assets, at least in my eyes.

Other key roles are filled by an international cast, including Liam Neeson, who (curiously) lacks the towering bravado I associate with the character of Zeus, Ralph Fiennes, who’s eerily effective as Hades, King of the Underworld, and Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (who made a strong impression as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale) as the brawny Draco. Ruddy-faced Pete Postlethwaite sets the film on course in its prologue as Perseus’ human father, a fisherman, and it’s nice to see Elizabeth McGovern, even briefly, as his mother.

The meat of the picture lies in its action scenes and visual effects, and these are first-rate, for the most part, though I must confess I wish I’d seen them in a good, bright 2-D print instead of the murky version I suffered through. The CGI updates of Harryhausen’s crab monsters and the deadly Medusa are very good indeed, and don’t need the so-called enhancement of 3-D.

Clash of the Titans has a vigorous and spectacular story to tell. The film has its lulls, and cheesy moments, but for the most part it’s entertaining. I’d encourage anyone who wants to see it to select 2-D for a better experience than Warner Bros.’ “2½-D” has to offer. You’ll save a few dollars in the bargain.

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6 Comments

  • anis | April 17, 2010 8:14 AMReply

    I thought it was pretty entertaining. Nothing great, but hey I didn't expect much from it in the first place. So yea I was pleasantly surprised (though it was a bit rushed). Ralph Fiennes was especially fun to watch (kinda reminded me of his chilling role in harry potter).

  • 7tavernadmin | April 7, 2010 4:06 AMReply

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  • kim | April 6, 2010 3:53 AMReply

    Clash of the titans should have been called trash of the titans . . . The actors were good and very believable especially the lead actor sam. But if your going to remake a good classic the little fact matter, events happened before and some didn't happen atall. I expected more and was hugely dissappointed I almost fell asleep. I should have waited for redbox cuz that movie was only worth a dollar. I do have to agree with you 3d was horrible maybe 20 percent of it was 3d which is a rip off for charging extra and not delivering.

  • Herb Finn | April 3, 2010 12:27 PMReply

    I'm not happy with these "fake" 3-D films made off of films shot in 2-D.

    It took decades for 3-D to go beyond the image it had of cheep Red/Blue Glasses with the advancements of real 3-D,and this 'fake" 3-D will only hurt it.

    Studios will take the cheep way out and shoot in 2-D then make it 'fake 3-D" or shoot parts in 3-D then the rest in 2-D bumped up to 3-D.

  • Steven | April 2, 2010 12:57 PMReply

    I hated this movie and was very close to walking out less than half way through it. The male and female leads were terrible and not even close to being believeable or likeable. I am glad that I did not see it in 3D. I own a half sheet of the original and came home and stared at it for a few minutes trying to erase this version from my memory. Bring back Harryhausen. The best movie ever made, from my boyhood perspective, was and may still be The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.

  • Jason | April 2, 2010 7:53 AMReply

    I'm glad to hear Clash of the Titans isn't complete rubbish. I think Sam Worthington in any movie is reason enough to see it, though it's sad the studio's trying to cash in on the 3-D experience.

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